Planes, Trains and Automobiles coming Saturday
On Saturday morning, there will be plenty of classic automobiles, motorcycles and tractors in downtown Baldwin City for the annual Father’s Day weekend event.
Although the event is geared toward fathers, one of the most popular attractions is for children only. McFarlane Aviation and the Vinland Airport, north of Baldwin City, will host one of the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles Programs events.
“It’s a really cool program to introduce kids to aviation,” said Star Novak, Young Eagles flight coordinator. “It’s pretty cool this year, because the two sponsors of the program are the two pilots who landed the airplane in the ‘Miracle on the Hudson.’ They are the national spokespersons this year for the EEA program.”
The EAA Young Eagles program was launched in 1992 to give interested young people, ages 8 - 17, an opportunity to go flying in a general aviation airplane. These flights are offered free of charge and are made possible through the generosity of EAA member volunteers.
Saturday’s Young Eagles event will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Vinland Airport, which is four miles north of Baldwin on County Road 1055. The event, as part of the Planes, Trains and Automobiles event in Baldwin, has been a success every year.
“Every year, the smiles on the kids’ faces really tell me the story,” Novak said. “When the kids exit the aircraft and they are grinning from ear to ear, it tells me that they really enjoyed it and they really appreciated it. That, to me, is what Young Eagles is all about.”
Each year, some children return to fly, but Novak said they will be screening the riders more than past years.
“We do have return visitors and that’s a compliment to us that the kids want to return year after year,” she said. “This year we are trying to give more priority to kids who have not had the opportunity to fly. So we will try to screen that a little more closely, because we want everyone to experience the program.”
Most flights leave the airport and head south to Baldwin City. The pilots take the riders on a trip above town and then loop back around to the airport. The riding time can depend on different factors, Novak said.
“The ride time depends on several things,” she said. “It depends on the pilot or the weather. Last year we were faced with a weather situation, so we tried to keep the flights a bit shorter. It’s mostly dependent on weather and the crowd.”
Of course, the airplane rides won’t be the only activity for children Saturday. There will also be a KidZone from 10 a.m. to noon. It will include face painting, inflatables and other activities.
Children may also eat breakfast at Hickory Creek Barbecue on High Street. Chris Cakes Pancake Breakfast will be serving from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The cost will be $5.
The annual Father’s Day weekend event will also include its car show, vintage motorcycle show, antique tractor show and train rides. The car, tractor and motorcycle shows will all be downtown from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The train rides, which are free for fathers with the purchase of a paid admission, will be at the Midland Depot, located west of downtown on High Street. Back after debuting last year will be the historic gravel road bicycle ride.
“I think we’re pretty set to go,” said Steve Friend, event organizer. “The main stuff is ready. We had about 60 cars last year and we’re hoping for more than that this year. Now, we just hope the weather cooperates.”